Ben Carter, rehabilitation specialist with the city's housing department, is busy this week writing letters to 73 District residents explaining why they have not yet been notified whether they are the winning bidders for 14 Logan Circle Victorian houses the city is selling at cut-rate prices.

He will tell them to wait for at least another month. In addition, if everything goes according to the department's latest timetable, the lucky 14 will not start renovation of their homes before Oct. 10.

When the city announced it was selling the 14 homes for prices ranging from $10,000 to $39,650 - in an area where bargaining for shells begins at $40,000, according to local real estate agents - there was a deluge of proposals.

"Usually the city receives one or two proposals when it sells land," Carter said.

Each buyer's proposal detailed what the buyer would do with the house, including how he would renovate it, whether it would be owner occupied, whether there would be rental units in the house and whether the unit would be rented to low or middle income persons. The prices for the houses were set by the city, so the bidders' competition is based on the proposals for renovation and use.

Under the city's original schedule all proposals were due on Feb. 8, and two months later, by April 8, the Redevelopment Land Agency board was to meet and select the 14 successful bidders.

But some of the prospective bidders found mistakes in the floor plans for one of the homes - the plans showed the basement stairs in the wrong place and a seven-foot instead of eight-foot ceiling, Carter said.

Housing department director Lorenzo Jacobs decided to correct the errors and extend the filing deadline by a month after some complaints, Carter said.

Once the proposals came in, not only did housing officials have to sort through the 73 complicated applications and check such items as a bidder's credit references but the Logan Circle community organization and the Shaw Project Area Committee wanted a voice in the final selection of the people who will become their new neighbors. Logan Circle is part of the Shaw urban renewal area.

The selections of the Shaw group were only recently received while Logan Circle citizens submitted their evaluations some time ago, Carter said.

Carter and the staff of the Neighborhood Preservation Administration now are narrowing down the contestants and by June 15 will recommend 14 of the bidders to the RLA board. The board will probably ratify the choices and name the 14 tentative successful bidders.

During the summer months there will be more reviews of plans and financial arrangements for the renovations by the city and the Historic Preservation Society, since Logan Circle is an historic district, and a public hearing Sept. 21.

With no hitches, the 14 will obtain titles to their properties on Oct. 3 and with final instructions from the city begin work a week later, Carter said.

Since the houses vary from boarded up trash-collectin shells to liveable houses that until recently served as flop houses for some of the city's itinerant, the restorations will take from nine mmonths to a year, Carter said.